Tag Archives | Bing

Google’s Page Previews Are What’s Great About the Search Wars

Boy, am I glad the ridiculousness of smartphone patent wars hasn’t carried over to web search, because Google’s testing of full page previews illustrates everything that’s great about stealing another company’s ideas.

Some Google users are spotting full page previews today, according to Patrick Altoft at Blogstorm. This allows users to see important content from a website without clicking through to the link. Chunks of text containing search keywords are broken into orange boxes, and the entire page layout is visible from within Google search.

Clearly, Google ripped this feature from Bing, where page previews have been part of search since day one. So what? Bing does it differently, with simple, unobtrusive preview boxes that only draw out a few lines of text and other important details. Sometimes the imitation is better than the original, and sometimes it’s worse, but Google’s and Bing’s desire to differentiate themselves is always reflected in the product.

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Bing Surpasses Yahoo in Search Share, But Does it Matter?

Microsoft’s Bing has finally managed to overtake Yahoo in search share according to Nielsen. In August, Bing had a 13.9 percent share, up about .3 percent, while Yahoo dropped 1.5 percent to 13.1 percent during the same period. While its certainly a milestone for the company, in the end does it matter?

Yahoo’s search engine is now powered by Bing, so essentially the two sites are now one in the same. So in other words, Bing’s got 27 percent of the market now. Now add July’s numbers together, and you can see that together they’ve actually lost share.

So where did this share go? Some of it has gone to Google: the company saw its share rise .8 percent to 65 percent of the market, meaning that the much ballyhooed Yahoo+Bing deal isn’t doing quite what it should. Is it cause to worry for Yahoo and Microsoft? I’d argue at this point no, but the companies better hope that things turn around.

“Bing is on an unequivocal roll. It’s no longer a question of whether or not Bing will continue to grow share but one of where will future growth come from,” my colleague Joe Wilcox writes over at Betanews. “Microsoft loses by taking share from Yahoo. The gains that matter must come from Google.”

I agree with Joe — Bing cannot really celebrate these numbers because they aren’t all that positive at face value. Certainly, Bing has upward momentum, but at the same time it almost has to cheer for its competitor to at least tread water because in the end its Google that’s in its sights in the battle for search engine dominance.


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Google Adds Canned Home Page Backgrounds

You’ll like Google–it’s sort of like Bing


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No More Bing Cashback

When Microsoft started offering sizable kickbacks to people who used its Windows Live shopping features to buy stuff–via a feature called Live Search Cashback which later turned into Bing Cashback–I was instinctively skeptical. It sounded kind of like bribery, and the process of finding deals and collecting your rebate involved jumping through multiple hoops.

And then I decided to invest a sizable chunk of change in a Nikon D90 SLR, a camera that tends to cost about the same no matter which (reputable) dealer you buy it from. I bought one using Bing Cashback and got a crazy-good Cashback deal that saved me $150. Boom–no more skepticism. A hundred and fifty bucks felt like more-than-adequate compensation for the effort involved.

But now Microsoft is saying that Cashback is going away:

In lots of ways, this was a great feature – we had over a thousand merchant partners delivering great offers to customers and seeing great ROI on their campaigns, and we were taking some of the advertising revenue and giving it back to customers. But after a couple of years of trying, we did not see the broad adoption that we had hoped for.

I’m sorry to see it go–and glad to see Microsoft being up-front about its rationale for shuttering it.


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Five Sites Beyond Google

[NOTE: Here’s another story I wrote for FoxNews.com. This one’s on cool ways to find information that go beyond Google, and mentions Aardvark.I wrote it last Monday and it was was published on Tuesday–and on Thursday, TechCrunch broke the news that Google was buying Aardvark.)

How much do I love Google? Thanks to the stats provided by Google Web History, it’s easy to quantify: Over the past four and a half years, I’ve Googled for information 43,295 times. That works out to about one search per hour, 24/7/365. If that doesn’t indicate passion for the world’s most popular search engine, I don’t know what does.

But I’d never argue that Google is always the fastest, most effective way to find facts, seek advice, take actions, or simply satisfy your curiosity about the world around you. Actually, there are more viable Google alternatives than ever. For the most part, they don’t compete by trying to out-Google Google at basic Web searching. Instead, they do useful things that Google doesn’t.

I’m nowhere near as dependent on any of these five free services as I am on Google — but I use and recommend them all.

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Google’s Tiff With Apple Opens iPhone to Microsoft

It’s no secret that Apple and Microsoft have one of the stranger relationships in tech. While Microsoft has produced software such as Office for the Macintosh platform, and Apple has opened its doors to Windows with its switch to Intel, they still are highly competitive with each other. But Cupertino’s relationship with Google is souring far faster, which is the perfect opening for Microsoft when it comes to the iPhone.

Apple is apparently in discussions with Microsoft to give the Bing search engine the top spot for search on iPhone, which currently belongs to Google. These talks have been underway for several weeks, BusinessWeek reports, but nothing as of yet has been finalized.

Getting on the iPhone as the default search engine would be a huge win for Bing. I regularly search for things on my iPhone, so just the boost there in search queries would help Microsoft overall in gaining some search share, something it sorely needs. It’s not clear whether any search deal would also extend to the Safari browser, available on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms.

Either way, its pretty likely that Google wouldn’t be completely erased from the iPhone. YouTube is a popular application. Apple would probably also let users switch back to Google in settings just like it already does now if users wish to search using Yahoo. Bing Maps could replace Google Maps, however.

What are your thoughts on the increasingly hostile relationship between Apple and Google? Who stands to benefit most here? We’d like to hear what you think.


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Twitter’s Profitable (No, Really.)

Oft-criticized for its lack of a business model that could actually make the company some money, Twitter may be able to shut up those critics for a bit. BusinessWeek has learned that the company will be able to post a small profit for 2009 thanks to the content deals it signed during the year.

It’s deal with Google was worth about $15 million, and with Microsoft for Bing about $10 million. Without actual data on the company’s operating expenses — it does not publicly release this information — BW is guessing expenses would run about $20-25 million. That means Twitter may actually have an ever-so-small profit this year.

Helping Twitter to achieve this feat was efforts at cost reductions. It’s text messaging offering which sent tweets to mobile phones were one of its biggest expenses — with Twitter very popular, the company was able to leverage this to get better deals on messaging rates.

It remains to be seen whether Twitter can remain profitable. Job one of course seems to be these content deals, the easiest way for the company to generate revenue. Plans to charge for commercial accounts is another way — tweeting is the new fad in customer relations — and advertising is another way.

Such changes may affect Twitter’s feel slightly as it becomes more commercial, however the current business model is not very sustainable. There’s just no way in it for the company to make money. Venture capitalists are in the business to make money, you know.


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Another Day, Another Bing-is-Better-Than-Google “Study”

For the amount of time Microsoft spends lately beating us over the heads with how much better its Bing search engine is than Google, you’d think they would be in first place already. One of its latest examples is an effort by the Redmond company to convince us all that two-thirds of Google searchers would probably switch to its search engine if given the chance.

Microsoft has taken to its YouTube page for its latest schtick. In a three-minute video, the company says it recruited a “qualitative research firm” and had fifteen participants use Bing exclusively for a week. The company was not revealed as the sponsor of the study until after these folks told the researchers whether they’d stick with Bing or go back to their old search engine.

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Should We Call It the Bing Screen of Death?

Microsoft’s Bing search engine went offline this evening, greeting visitors with an error message instead of a pretty picture and a search field–for somewhere between thirty minutes and nearly an hour, depending on which report you believe. I don’t see any mention of the outage, its end, or the culprit at Bing’s blog, but as TechCrunch’s MG Siegler points out, a member of the Bing team tweeted about it a bit. And the official Bing Twitterfeed says it’ll share details when it has them.

The outage’s timing isn’t auspicious–it comes a day after Bing’s big press event and rollout of new features. But at least it’s in good company: Google had a weird hour-long period back in January when it thought the entire Web was dangerous, and Gmail has suffered multiple extended hiccups this year. I wonder what the biggest Web site is that’s never been suffered for more than, oh, five minutes of unplanned downtime?

[UPDATE: Bing has explained the problem–unintended consequences of a configuration change.)


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Google/Bing: Minimalism vs. Maximalism

I kinda doubt that anyone involved planned it this way, but yesterday provided an interesting study in contrasts between the world’s biggest search engine and its most notable rising star. In the morning, I attended a Bing press event. It was highlighted by the debut of a feature-packed new version of Bing Maps, but also included demonstrations of how you can get weather reports from three different providers right within Bing. And watch movie trailers, and view slideshows. Bing may be a search engine, but that doesn’t mean its goal is to get you to leave–it’s at least as happy if it can help you without you having to click away to another site, and it won’t shy away from throwing a lot of stuff at you.

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